Ger­man watch­dog wants ‘big data’ hoards con­sid­ered in merger probes

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

The vast troves of con­sumer data held by big In­ter­net com­pa­nies should be scru­ti­nized in merger probes be­cause they have a big im­pact on com­pe­ti­tion, the pres­i­dent of the Ger­man an­titrust watch­dog told a news­pa­per.

"Un­til now, mar­kets in which no money flows and in which no rev­enues are posted do not count as mar­kets from a com­pe­ti­tion point of view. But that ob­vi­ously goes against the logic of many In­ter­net mar­kets," An­dreas Mundt told Sued­deutsche Zeitung's Satur­day edi­tion. Col­lec­tions of "big data" - cov­er­ing bil­lions of in­ter­net searches, mes­sages and other on­line in­ter­ac­tions - hand In­ter­net com­pa­nies huge power they can ex­er­cise in mar­ket­ing and com­merce and which po­ten­tially makes it dif­fi­cult for smaller busi­nesses to com­pete in those ar­eas.

Face­book's FB.N $19 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of What­sapp in 2014 al­most es­caped scru­tiny from car­tel au­thor­i­ties as the mes­sag­ing ser­vice hardly had any rev­enues at the time, Mundt said, adding that it was ap­par­ently still of great strate­gic im­por­tance to Face­book.

"How many users are there and which data is con­cerned? Those are the bet­ter mea­sure­ment cat­e­gories when it comes to defin­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the In­ter­net," he said, adding that law­mak­ers should clar­ify rules. While the Ger­man car­tel au­thor­ity does take data is­sues into ac­count when mak­ing de­ci­sions, th­ese may be suc­cess­fully chal­lenged in court due to the lack of clear leg­is­la­tion, he added.

The Ger­man com­pe­ti­tion watch­dog has set up a six-per­son In­ter­net task force which is work­ing on draft­ing plans on how Ger­man law can be adapted to the In­ter­net age, he said.

Mundt's com­ments come af­ter the Euro­pean Union also started to take a harder look at whether the use of "big data" by In­ter­net com­pa­nies vi­o­lates com­pe­ti­tion rules.

Since tak­ing over as Europe's top an­titrust en­forcer in 2014, Mar­grethe Vestager has stepped up in­ves­ti­ga­tions into U.S. web gi­ants such as Google and Ama­zon to de­cide whether her agency should reg­u­late them more tightly.

"If just a few com­pa­nies con­trol the data you need to sat­isfy cus­tomers and cut costs, then you can give them the power to just drive ri­vals out of the mar­ket," Vestager said last month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.